Olympian death

This has no relation to the topic we are talking about in class right now but I couldn’t help but notice the coverage of the Georgian Olympian that died this past weekend. For those of you who don’t know what happened, a Georgian luger was killed when he was thrown from his sled making a tight turn on the Olympic course. What I found disturbing, and completely unnecessary, was that NBC was televising it (in their coverage of the games) the footage of the 21-year-old flying off of his sled and hitting a pole which resulted in his death. They literally showed him being killed. Two days after they aired the footage, Bob Costas stated that they will not be showing the footage again for the remainder of the games. For me, it never should have been shown in the first place. The sanctity of someone’s life far outweighs the importance of a news story and I think it was completely inappropriate for it ever to have aired.

When it comes to death, what is appropriate to be shown? Should the family members have a say in whether images like this can go public?

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2 thoughts on “Olympian death

  1. I think it definitely should not have been shown because it has the potential to cause emotional harm to his family and friends who might be watching it. I think that in an instance like that a description of the events that led up to the unfortunate accident is more than sufficient for the audience

  2. There’s been kind of a precedent set for the display of death. This is in no way a “first offense” type of thing. Generally speaking, journalists will display death when they feel it will help get a message across. Now, this almost never goes over very well with the public.

    Peter Jennings (the last of the great news anchors) did this when he showed dead bodies being dug up from rubble during the evening news. Needless to say the first reaction of the American public was either “how can you show us this during dinner time? there are kids watching!” or “that’s such a terrible thing!” The second thing the Yanks did was turn around and go back to their dinners.

    The issue also came up in ’09 or when the picture of a dying Marine was published along with an AP story on the toll of the Afghan and Iraq wars. There was backlash for about a week or so, and then people moved on with their lives.

    Now the death of the luger was under different circumstances. It was a terrible accident that occurred in a sporting event. “People want to see this stuff,” some of you may say (you know who you are =P) but again, people also want to watch child pornography, snort cocaine, inject heroin. We don’t just hand it to them. You remember what happened when people wanted fast, cheap money and we just handed to them? Your parents got laid off, and your grandparents lost the pension.

    But I digress. If the video of the death had been broadcast to expose dangerous and deadly practices of the sport (which there arguably are), it would be a different discussion. However, this was not the case. It was simply bad broadcasting control by NBC. This is also the case when NBC recorded Shaun White and his coach swearing, and the broadcasters apologies FOR White, while they should be apologizing for themselves. What should have happened with the luger accident was they should have cut the feed. Go to commercial, then explain what happened. The viewers would have lost nothing by not being able to watch the video.

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